Vacation Time Again…Challenges Abound!

Journey's end?

Getting ready to leave on a vacation is always a challenge around here! Leaving the cold of northern Illinois, where sweats and hoodies are the rule, and ending up a few days later in the sunshine and warmth of southern Florida, I always have the dilemma of locating my summer stuff to take along. And then there is the effort to pick out exactly what I’ll be needing in the days ahead. Do I need more than one pair of sweats, for example?  Simply put, there is a major concern that I’ve not packed enough–or that I’ve packed too much–of the right things.

Since I will basically spend most of my days in gym shorts and t-shirts, I could be content to get by with a small duffel bag containing a couple of changes of items. Alas, that plan never is acceptable to the wife. Thus, I’m  forced to endure the ritual of organizing the various items into workable piles on the bed and making sure each shirt, pair of pants, socks, underwear, etc., are presentable and still fit. Once they all have passed inspection, they are then placed into my trusty Eddie Bauer bag and closed up and ready to be packed into the trunk of the car. And that, gentle reader, is the next challenge.

Before anything is allowed to be packed into the trunk or the backseat, it is imperative that the interior of the car be vacuumed and wiped down with 409, and the windows cleaned with Windex. So I make a pilgrimage to the nearby gas station and feed quarters into the heavy-duty vacuum and get the floor carpet and seats “travel ready.” The trunk is then straightened out and made ready for packing. Of course, I always have to keep my fingers crossed that the good wife will refrain from messing up the newly cleaned and vacuumed car on her way to and from work the next couple of days before we leave on our sojourn. She usually is pretty good about that, but there’s always the concern!

Once the clothes, shaving kit, and other items are rounded up and put in their cases and/or bags, they’re placed in the dining room, which is kind of like a “holding cell,” until we do the actual packing the day before we pull out. It’s now time to face the next challenge of going away: Cleaning the house!

Because my blood pressure tends to rise whenever the good wife says we have to clean and dust before we leave, I try to smile and go along with her good intentions as best I can. Since I make “half the mess,” according to her, I have to help clean. I resign myself to helping run a cloth over shelves and other furniture and will make sure the kitchen is in order. I even make the bed and change the bedding on the scheduled day. I won’t, however, do bathrooms or run the sweeper! This time, fortunately, I have an excuse to refrain from doing so in light of my recent umbilical hernia surgery. The real problem is, she seems to make a “day” of house cleaning. I’m all for getting it going early and finishing early. But that’s just another challenge that I have to face, and I’m learning–somehow–to chip in and get it done as best I can. And once all of these little challenges are met, we can actually get on the road at our planned time.

The idea for this winter’s journey came about rather spur-of-the-moment a couple of months ago. Friends of ours who rent a place in North Port, Florida, had asked us to come and visit them sometime this winter. After some thought and discussion, we decided that a road trip once again would be wonderful this year! And so we checked the calendar and settled upon this time in February to load things into the car, lock our house here in northern Illinois, and set out for one of our “adventures.”

I have my writing “stuff” organized and ready to take along. The MacBook will be one of the last things I pack in on Saturday morning. I also have my current pile of books to finish reading or to begin. I’m finishing up Jack London’s The Sea Wolf, a classic I’d never read before, and then I have a couple of others to get started on for various book clubs to which I participate. They are Still Alice and The Power of Myth.

I’m hoping that I can spend many hours reading in the warmth of the Florida sun and getting my morning walks in every day. The end result is always a wonderful and memorable vacation–a time away from life here in northern Illinois. It’s just that there abound so many challenges in getting to that end result! Stay tuned for my thoughts from the journey…

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